Premier League: Mané offered so many  moments of magic

The departure of Sadio Mané from Liverpool will come as bad news for many Reds. His boots will be hard to fill. John Roycroft looks at why he is leaving and what Liverpool have done to replace the star performer.
Premier League: Mané offered so many  moments of magic

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp consoles Sadio Mané after losing the UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France, Paris back in May. 

THE news that most Liverpool fans had dreaded to hear was delivered on Wednesday, finally confirming that Sadio Mané had completed his move to Bayern Munich, thus ending a remarkable golden era at Anfield.

The 30-year-old Senegalese striker has been a stalwart of Liverpool's fabulously effective front three for the best part of a decade. Alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, the trio, among others, brought the Merseyside club back from the brink of extinction and won every cup competition they entered, doing so with no small measure of style and with brilliantly incisive effectiveness.

Eye for target

Jurgen Klopp was eager to sign Mané ever since he saw the striker put two goals past his Liverpool side in Southampton's 3-2 victory over the Reds in the 2015 season.

The £35m stumped up to pay the Saints for Mané in 2016 made him the most expensive African player ever, but in light of his services to the club since then, it looks like a ridiculously good bargain now.

Mané scored 120 goals during his time at Anfield, along with providing 48 assists from just 259 games.

In the Premier League, he managed 90 goals and 36 assists from 196 games.

In the Champions League, he scored a total was 24 goals and had eight assists from 55 games.

Incredibly, 68 of Mané's 120 Liverpool goals were with his first touch (57%), showing his potency at the finish of so many of those Liverpool sweeping attacks.

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (left) and Sadio Mane pose with the trophy after the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, London. 
Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (left) and Sadio Mane pose with the trophy after the Emirates FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, London. 

Issues

So it is clear that Mané's departure raises several issues for Liverpool. Not least, who gets those goals from now on?

That was partially answered by the £64m acquisition of 22-year-old Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica. Of course, a big price tag does not guarantee that Nunez will be a success, or that he will blend in with the Salah, Firmino/Diogo Jota trident in the Liverpool attack that Mané had filled so well. Buying an attacking winger in the shape of Fábio Carvalho from Fulham looks like a bit of safety net acquisition should other things fail. And let's not forget the wonderful achievements on the left-wing by Luis Diaz since his arrival at Christmas.

With the above stats and the insecurity of replacing a guaranteed goal-getter with the unknown quantities of Nunez, no matter what they paid for him, the question anyone would ask is, why are Liverpool letting Mané leave?

Benfica's Darwin Nunez takes a strike during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg match at Anfield, Liverpool. He has since signed for the Merseyside outfit.
Benfica's Darwin Nunez takes a strike during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg match at Anfield, Liverpool. He has since signed for the Merseyside outfit.

It seems as simple as Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp just accepted that Mané wanted to go and that there was little point in delaying the departure into the final year of his contract when he would leave for free anyway.

And it should be pointed out, that this is extremely good business for Liverpool and the Moneyball school of sports business expounded by owners FSG. Selling Mané for more than they paid for him, six years and 120 goals later, especially when you consider that Mané is 30 years old, in the final year of his contract and unlikely to be getting any better, makes sense in a cold business light. Mind you, if he stays as good as he is for another couple of years, then maybe this deal for Bayern may yet seem like a bargain too.

Mané himself expressed his desire to leave by way of taking on a new challenge.

"My life is always (about a) challenge, and when it came, I said to the club that I want to leave, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge," he said at the German press conference in Munich.

"It is not anything else, it is just a challenge because for me, I want to always be challenging myself to get better and better."

Mané reasons

And that seems fair enough. No doubt the wages offered by the German giant were enticing too. Even though money does not seem to be an overriding factor in Mané's character. But I do suspect that it may be more to do with this being Mané's last chance to put his own stamp as the main man at a club. As brilliant as he was at Liverpool, he probably always lived in the shadow of Mohamed Salah and the Egyptian's amazing ability to pack in the goals every season.

Bayern Munich's Senegalese new forward Sadio Mane poses with his jersey during a press conference after he signed a three-year deal with the German first division side. 	 Picture: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)
Bayern Munich's Senegalese new forward Sadio Mane poses with his jersey during a press conference after he signed a three-year deal with the German first division side.  Picture: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images)

A move to Bayern may just offer Mané the opportunity to make a team his own fiefdom, albeit that Mané made his moves towards Bayern when rumours were strong that current goal machine, Robert Lewandowski, was expected to leave for Spain or Italy. A rumour that now seems less likely to be fulfilled as time moves on.

Whatever the reasons, the move by Mané will have effects, either good or bad, for the player and Liverpool. What we can be grateful for, is the opportunity he provided us to witness the wonderful lightning-in-the-bottle moments that he and Salah in full flight offered us as football fans.

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